11th February - Ashford Town (Middx) 2 AFC Dunstable 3
For the first time this season, AFC came back from behind, to register a hard fought win and move up to 3rd in the league. Manager Steve Heath was pleased with the effort his team put in saying "even though we started the game quite brightly, Ashford came back at us and finally it was pleasing to get a late winner, as we have been on the end of some late goals this season"
The visitors went into the game without the solid centre half pairing of Bill Morgan and Terry Griffiths. That meant a recall for Danny Murphy at left back, which saw Newman Carney move to the centre of defence. With Leon Cashman having a resurgence in midfield, he had to be moved into the back four. Roy Byron slotted into the position vacated by Cashman.
AFC were on the front foot straight away as Nathan Frater had a strike at goal. He could not get enough power in his shot and was easily fielded by Tyler Tobin. Keeping up the pressure, on 8 minutes they took the lead. Good wing play by BJ Christie saw him cut in and get his shot away. Tobin parried the ball out and Jermaine Hall was on hand to find the net.
Six minutes later, Hall had a great chance to double his tally. Breaking free from his marker, he looked to chip Tobin but got his angles wrong as the ball went wide.
With the half just past the midway stage, AFC had a mad 8 minutes. With 25 minutes gone, a long range strike from Mark Bitmead bounced in front of Garry Malone. As the ball rebounded off his chest, Dan Fleming gleefully hit home from close range.
This goal gave Ashford confidence and within 8 minutes they took the lead. Failing to clear their lines, AFC were punished as a goal mouth scramble ensued. Once again Fleming was the recipient, as yet again only yards from goal made no mistake.
The game was now hotting up and AFC nearly drew level 2 minutes later. A shot from Christie deflected across goal. It made its way to Hall but this time Tobin denied him with a superb save. Only a minute had surpassed, when another chance for the visitors went begging. Christie was on goal and tried to be cute and lob Tobin. He got too much purchase on the ball as it flew over the bar.
With half time fast approaching and into added time, Cashman made a foray forward. He got in front of his marker, who then was clumsy and brought him down. Hall made no mistake from the spot for his 23rd league goal of the season.
Half time: Ashford Town 2 AFC Dunstable 2
With both sides strikers on top, surely the 2nd half would spawn a lot more goals. While both sides created chances, the back of the net was not found until the dying embers of the game.
AFC had to ride their luck on a few occasions, as the hosts had 3 good chances to take the lead. Firstly Bayley Mummery had a long range shot that shaved the post. Then on 55 minutes, Fleming broke clear with pace but put his effort wide. The home teams number 9 was causing the AFC defence problems all afternoon and he should have secured his hat trick 5 minutes later. Again he found himself in a great position but put his shot over the bar.
It was looking like both teams would have to share the spoils. Then AFC broke with pace, which saw Christie break clear. His pin point cross found Frater in the box, who got to the ball first and headed home.
Finally the whistle went to the jubilation of the AFC players, as a very hard earned victory was achieved.
Team: Malone. Bishop. Murphy. N.Carney. Cashman. Byron (Massay 69). Hall. Olaleye. Christie. Humbert. Frater. Subs not used. Mannion. B.Carney.
Scorers: Hall (8, 45+3pen). Frater (90)